Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Drake Passage

After about a day of calm sailing out of the Strait of Magellan, we entered the Drake Passage. Boy, has it been quite a ride! Winds have averaged about 30-40 knots (roughly 35-45 mph), with frequent gusts up to 50 knots! Waves have been around 10 feet. So, while it certainly could be worse, it’s been quite a trip! It takes a lot of effort to walk anywhere on the boat, and anything not secured has been flying around! Last night Uffe flew right out of the chair he was sitting in, and I gave up trying to eat with a plate in the galley and just stick to fruit that I can hold in my hand. Most of us have hunkered down in our bunks to wait it out (except Connor, who has been busily studying and doing his homework for classes back at ASU! I’m impressed that he is able to read and write through this, because I have a hard time just staying upright in a chair!)

I tried to get some pictures through my porthole to show what it’s like, but the photos don’t really do it justice.

We were followed for a while by some albatross and petrels. I stood out on the deck to watch the albatross before the weather got bad, but now we’re not allowed out on deck at all. I don’t have much desire to go out there anyway, since with wind chill it’s -20°C right now!

We’ve been moving at a steady 10 knots (about 11.5 mph) since we left Punta Arenas. If you’d like to watch the boat’s movement, you can look at these two websites that track us (and other boats in the area):

Tomorrow we’re expected to hit our first stop, which is a point at the base of the Drake Passage. A couple years ago, some other scientists anchored some moorings that have been measuring sea temperature. We’re going to pick up the data loggers for them, since we’re passing by, then move on to the first sampling point for our soil research. Hopefully the water will smooth out before then so that we are able to get our gear together and prepare!

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